Roku, the famous streaming service which long wishes to outwit Apple on its TV game, has just launched the third generation box. Simply known as Roku 3, the latest hardware version comes with upgraded technical specifications, a new software layer and a bunch of other new features which should make the game more interesting.
Available for just $99, Roku 3 will blaze the market starting from April, when all retailers should receive the product in stores. Until then, purchases can be made from the official website or from Amazon.com, as usual.
What does Roku 3 bring new?
Well, we must admit that on the hardware side, Roku 3 manages to make quite an impression. The new box comes with the classic HDMI plug, Full HD streaming support, Ethernet compatibility and a dual band Wi-Fi antenna compatible with /n standards. Continuing with the connectivity side, you can also find one USB jack and Bluetooth support, as well as a microSD slot for expanding possibilities Pairing all of these with a Broadcom ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor and more processing memory will certainly give users a snappier navigation experience and sheer gaming performance.
When it comes to cool new features, Roku 3 introduces a revamped user interface, which allows users to navigate through menus with more ease and gives a natural flow, to the overall experience. Most of these gestures will be performed using the directional buttons on the remote, so jumping in and out of apps should be now simpler. Another interesting thing is the new search engine embedded in Roku 3, which although far from perfection, does strive to get the most. Here is a picture with the difference between Roku 3 and previous versions.
At the moment, searching can be done using the movie title, actor name, director and other important criteria. All results will be pulled of from various sources, including NetFlix, HBO, Vudu and Hulu Plus, with users being left to chose which service should be used for watching. Also, the new Roku remote has a tiny tweaked design and now comes with a pair of headphones which will render audio right from the box, wireless. This may come in handy for those wishing to watch the TV but without bothering others.
Let’s have a look at one of the first Roku 3 reviews, coming from none other than Walt Mossberg:
Still miles away from Apple TV
Although Roku has some unique features, like the ability to let developers write applications right on the set-box and to integrate hundreds of 3rd party services, there are still tons of things to be done until it can outwit Apple TV.
For instance, Roku 3 has no support for mobile devices, whatsoever. That means you cannot stream content directly from your smartphone or tablet, like Apple AirPlay allows (even though Roku has an Android application for music and picture streaming). There is also no YouTube or iTunes support, which is a big drawback for many users.
Radu Tyrsina contributed to this post